‘A red thread for the future of Europe’

At the beginning of 2000, the United Nations Population Division published an executive summary entitled eloquently: “Replacement migration:Is it a solution to declining and ageing population?” This study, which emphasised, in particular, the need for the EU to welcome 80 million migrants by 2050, aimed to contribute to the public debate on an issue that, back then, had not been identified as a ‘phenomenon’: namely the migrant/refugee issue. This phenomenon is certainly not new, on the contrary, it is interwoven with the history of humankind. However, especially in Europe, it comes under new circumstances, such as lack of reliability within the European institutions, economic crisis, absence of a single, foreign policy and security policy by the EU member states. In particular, the absence of significant development, the rise of Euroscepticism and the EU’s failure to intervene, for example on the ongoing civil war in Syria, create an environment that makes it difficult to address the migration/refugee phenomenon.

It has been understood that quantitative and qualitative approaches to addressing the current, unprecedented refugee/immigrant phenomenon require direct and bold political initiatives towards a collective European response, with a fair share of responsibility. A Roadmap is needed to tackle the phenomenon that ‘shaped our world and will define our future’ 1, by breaking with the past and The Dublin System and by putting forth a new model of migration/refugee policy and a single asylum system. A policy which would also support and assist the development of relations with the countries of origin or transit, the Middle East (Turkey, Jordan) and/or Africa (Morocco, Libya) in order to reduce the influx of refugees and migrants.

The refugee/migration phenomenon has come to stay, requiring specific initiatives and actions, not just words. Europe must assume these initiatives and actions collectively rather than individually (as in the case of certain countries, namely Italy and Greece, which have to bear the burden of the reception of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants, and which do so, expressing solidarity and respect for human rights).

Today, there is an urgent need for this multi-level action, as, current policies (Dublin) and current reactions (closure of borders, raise of fences, xenophobic behaviours) cultivate fertile ground for snake eggs to hatch.  This process is completed quite fast by certain countries that are the driving force behind the European project, namely Germany (the recent results in Berlin are really significant) and France (the rising of Marine Le Pen is becoming increasingly important).

Thus, immediate actions are needed in the context of coordinated action by international organisations, national governments and local authorities, against a twofold problem: the reception and integration of migrants/refugees in the European societies. This will only be achieved by tackling individual issues, such as integration into the labour market and covering of educational and social needs.

In conclusion, the migrant/refugee crisis seems now to be that red thread between the UN, the ‘Parliament of Man’ (Paul Kennedy) and local authorities in EU member states. As a matter of fact, this year, for the first time in its history, the ‘Parliament of Man’ (Paul Kennedy) dedicated the meeting of its General Assembly to the refugee/migration issue, thereby addressing the challenge of urgent redefinition of the notion of Politics as interpreted by Aristotle.

A red thread that will define the future of the EU: the challenge of stimulating ‘Osmosis’ between  national governments and local authorities in order for them to take action on the refugee/migration matter, is becoming a key factor. The migration/refugee matter proves to be a matter of Democracy, for it raises the question of the (lost) credibility of the European institutions). ‘The only way to get democracy in Europe is through a deepening of European co-operation’, highlighted in a recent interview Jürgen Habermas. That cooperation is the holistic response to the refugee/migration phenomenon.

1 “Exceptional People: How migration shaped our world and will define our future”, Ian Goldin, Geoffray Cameron, Meera Balarajan. 2011, Princeton University Press. In Greek, “Aftoi den einai san emas”, Crete University Press, 2013.

Independent Office of International Affairs

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